Management of Subcutaneous Infusions in Palliative Care
This education package on Management of Subcutaneous Infusions in Palliative Care was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and administered by Palliative Care Australia.
Use of subcutaneous infusion devices has become standard practice in palliative care and improves patient comfort by administration of medications at a constant rate to assist in successful control of a variety of symptoms.
There are some limitations and risks in use of subcutaneous infusion devices including inflexibility of prescription, technical problems and skin reactions at the subcutaneous cannula insertion site. Subcutaneous infusion devices should be managed in accordance with local policies and procedures, by knowledgable, appropriately trained staff to minimise risks presented by the limitations of individual devices and their use.
This learning resource has been developed to promote a standardised approach to clinical care for individuals requiring use of a subcutaneous infusion device for administration of medication. The resource includes learning activities which aim to develop knowledge and skills for beginning level practice in this field. The resource is also appropriate for the more experienced practitioner who may wish to update their skills.
To achieve minimum competency in use of specific subcutaneous infusion devices, you should complete all activities in this learning resource. You should also note:
- That successful completion of the learning activities in this on-line resource should be accompanied by practical demonstrations and supervised practice with an appropriately experienced clinician.
- As with all medical devices, the operation of a subcutaneous infusion device should only be undertaken by, or under the supervision of, appropriately trained staff and in accordance with local policies and procedures and manufacturers’ guidelines.
- Setting up and managing a subcutaneous infusion device is a skill that may lapse if not practised regularly, and maintaining competency can be difficult for practitioners who have variable exposure to the device and its use.
- Health professionals are at all times accountable and responsible for their own actions and should be aware of the limits of their knowledge, skills and competence and act within those limits.
The aim of this learning package is to assist the clinician to develop knowledge and skills of the basic principles of care for people with subcutaneous infusion devices in palliative care settings. This package is designed to provide self-directed learning; completion does not provide formal accreditation. Supervised practice with appropriately trained staff managing the device used by your service is recommended
The information contained in this package has been compiled by the Centre for Palliative Care Research and Education (CPCRE) and Palliative Care Australia (PCA) for educational and information purposes only.
It is intended to assist healthcare professionals in developing their knowledge of key principles concerning the use of subcutaneous infusion devices in palliative care.
While CPCRE and PCA have taken particular care in compiling this package, errors may occur. Therefore, CPCRE and PCA give no warranty as to its accuracy or completeness.
The package is not intended to replace or constitute medical advice and should not be construed as specific instructions for the delivery of medical treatment or care or the use of any particular device for providing a subcutaneous infusion. It is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and should not be relied upon to solve issues that may arise in individual cases.
CPCRE and PCA do not accept liability for any direct, incidental or consequential loss or damage arising from the use of or reliance upon the information contained in this package.
Healthcare professionals should also seek training, supervision and advice from appropriately qualified and experienced clinicians in order to develop the required level of clinical competence to properly treat patients, where appropriate, using subcutaneous infusion devices.